Magazine article The Progressive

Open It Up

Magazine article The Progressive

Open It Up

Article excerpt

When governments decide that the public's interest is best served by keeping people ignorant, alarm bells should ring somewhere. In July, two separate decisions sought to deny the American public its right to know.

A fiercely partisan debate in the House of Representatives resulted in a vote of 244-to-183 against releasing all the documents related to the House Post Office investigation. And a couple of days later, the first-ever closed hearing was held for confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee, following the decision of Senator Joseph Biden, the Delaware Democrat who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Neither decision will keep the public from eventually learning the facts. Illinois Democrat Dan Rostenkowski has already been implicated in the Post Office scandal and his name has been splashed over front pages nationwide. And The New York Times reported the day after Ruth Bader Ginsburg's closed hearing that the Senators quizzed her on her failure to list a country-club initiation fee as a gift on her financial-disclosure forms. So why all the secrecy?

House Democrats argued that releasing the Post Office documents would undermine a grand jury investigation of alleged embezzlement and other criminal activities. But their rhetoric against full disclosure was clearly an attempt to save Rostenkowski's name - if such a thing were possible - and to prevent the surfacing of any other embarrassing instances of fraud.

Republicans had a field day. …

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